Caldwell-Pope latest Piston in trade rumors

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — The frenzy before the NBA Thursday’s trade deadline is heating up for the Pistons. As the final hours tick away before the 3.p.m. cutoff, several Pistons continue to be tossed around in rumored discussions.

Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond have been named in various reports in recent weeks, with Jackson linked to the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves, among other teams. Drummond’s name has been in several rumors, including a potential deal with the Sacramento Kings before DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

Now we can add shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the list.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Wednesday night that the Pistons are welcoming offers on Drummond and Caldwell-Pope, citing league sources.

“Sources told that the Pistons have not committed to trading either player but have also not discouraged offers from interested teams for the two most prized names on their roster,” Stein wrote. “Detroit, meanwhile, has steadfastly continued to pursue a new home for point guard Reggie Jackson before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.”

Caldwell-Pope is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, with a new salary likely to reach at least $20 million per season. While Van Gundy has said all the players on the roster theoretically are available for the right return price, hearing Caldwell-Pope’s name surface is something of a surprise.

Caldwell-Pope, 24, has emerged as one of the Pistons’ centerpieces, in the midst of his best season, with 14.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He’s the Pistons’ best perimeter defender, but the cost of his contract could take them far above the salary cap and closer to the luxury-tax line.

Although no deal appears imminent, Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower look to be gauging the trade market to see if any deals would be worth pulling off.

In Caldwell-Pope’s case, the financial concerns could be one of the issues.

“We’ve talked about that a great deal; that’s been one of the big talks about this whole thing. You know what’s coming in terms of finances and where that puts us on our roster,” Van Gundy said Wednesday. “That’s something you have to make decisions about and deal with. I’m not getting into specifics at this point, but that has been a significant part of what we’ve talked about.

“He was probably the most urgent decision because of that and the money coming and what it means in terms of the cap and the tax. We’ve talked about it internally … We know exactly what’s coming and we’re making informed decisions.”

Drummond’s case seems to be the most vexing, as he’s been connected with more rumors in recent days, according to Stein and others at ESPN.

Ramona Shelburne reported that the Portland Trail Blazers inquired about Drummond, but talks fizzled when the Pistons asked for guard C.J. McCollum, whom the Blazers regarded as “an untouchable.”

Another report, by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, reported that the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors have engaged in discussions about Drummond.

“Jeff talks to virtually every team in the league all the time and I am sure every name on our roster has come up,” Van Gundy said Tuesday. “That’s his job and that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, talking to everybody and seeing what’s out there.

“Jeff will continue to do that, probably until 3:00 on Thursday. That’s the way it goes. Some discussions get more serious than others and that’s what happens. There hasn’t been a serious discussion about Andre, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been discussions about Andre.”

Coaching tweaks

Van Gundy said he spent the All-Star break working on coaching tweaks that could help in the final stretch of 25 games. That includes a focus on defense and tightening up the pick-and-roll defense, and in turn, having that help the offense.

“We’ve tried to work on some things offensively too but we’ve struggled all year offensively. We want to work on our offense but when you’re struggling to score, you have to defend,” Van Gundy said. “But also, where we’ve been good offensively is in transition on misses — that’s where our efficiency has been up.

“Getting stops is not just a defensive thing for us, but being able to get stops and rebound the ball helps our offense a great deal because we’ve been a pretty good offensive team in transition; we’ve struggled in the half-court, so if we’re taking the ball out of the net all night long, then we’re going to struggle some offensively.”

Pistons vs. Hornets

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, The Palace of Auburn Hills

TV/radio: FSD/WMGC

Outlook: The Pistons (27-30) start the second half just a game out of the No. 7 spot and two games out of sixth. They’ve won two of the three matchups this season against the Hornets (24-32), who have lost 9 of the last 10.